December 29, Day 4 - Culture Shock

I woke up at a more reasonable time this morning, headed to breakfast, and then did devotions. Our verses for this morning were 2 Timothy 1:8-12. Included in these is one of my very favorite verses in the whole Bible (it's actually my profile on facebook):
"I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."

I love this verse because as my world shifts and changes drastically every once in a while, and as my identity seems shaky, this verse really speaks a solid, unshakeable identity that is grounded in something other than me or my surroundings. Another thing that hits me about this verse is that God is able to keep what I have committed to Him. In other words... for Him to keep it, I have to commit it to Him. My achievements, my desires, my ambitions, my friendships, my world... if I commit it to Him, He is able to keep it.

After breakfast, we headed out on some boats bound for a waterfall! ... on the way, we stopped by some charcoal kilns

About an hour boat ride took us to the beginning of our hike to the waterfall... about an hour and a half hike through the jungle, which was nothing new for most of us, but pretty cool nevertheless. Some of us saw monkeys... I got a real good look at the tree shaking after the monkey jumped.

We made good time to the waterfall, so we got some extra time to swim

And we took a couple group photos that make us look like some edition of Survivor...

We hiked the hour and a half back to the boat, and then rode back to Telunas. On the way back, some of us discovered that if you stick your hand out of the boat, into the water, it creates a fine mist that disperses evenly over all the passengers behind you....
yeah, anyway, we got back to Telunas in time for lunch, thankfully, and make short work of the amazing food.

Our activity for this day had to do with culture shock... demystifying something that we were all familiar with. We were divided into two groups, and each of our groups were given a list of rules and goals that defined our culture. Then, one of us was sent to the other group, and one of them was sent to our group. We were not allowed to tell them the rules that defined our culture, they had to figure them out by interacting with us... and the one of us that went to their group had to do the same. Then, the two explorers went back to their original groups and explained what they had figured out about the other "culture." This was repeated until everyone had had a chance to see if they could figure out the other culture.... a very interesting activity, as the two cultures were quite different. A discussion followed, having to do with how to figure out other cultures... and also defining what culture shock is and how to deal with it.

This topic was continued in the night meeting, with an explanation of the stages of culture shock.
Hm, lets see, I have my little work-sheet right here... ah, here we go:

Stage 1: Initial
- in this stage you just observe the culture you have entered, taking in the new sights and sounds, but not interacting with the culture

Stage 2: Fascination
-you want to try new things out, taste new foods, engage the culture- everything is exciting... this usually lasts 1-3 months. then comes...

Stage 3: Conflict
-things are no longer fascinating, but instead are draining, frustrating, and unfamiliar. you are trying to figure out how things work, and are failing miserably, and you want to go home. How long this stage lasts depends on choice... you can stay in this stage forever, or you can choose to accept your surroundings and where God has placed you and move on through the conflict stage to the ....

Stage 4: Recovery
-things are ok, manageable, familiar. still frustrating, but you sort of know how things work, so it's not so terrible. this leads to ...

Stage 5: Integration
-things are fine, enjoyable, fun, and natural. this culture feels like home.

Now, these stages aren't always clear-cut... even though after 8 years in this culture I would say I am fairly integrated, there are still things that frustrate me to no end. And our leaders also explained something that we have experienced at least some: when we re-enter our passport country, the same stages of culture shock happen all over again!

1. Ooh, look at that, people actually check themselves out of the store with a credit card... weird.
2. let me try, let me try!
3. dude, this is terrible. how can you stand this? it's so confusing...
4. ok, ok, I think I have it...
5. of course I can check myself out with a credit card... here, let me show you.

Some good discussion, great tips... and best of all, we found out that we weren't alone, that there were... well, at least 11 kids... who went through the same things we did!

These discussions didn't stop at the meeting, by the way... they continued on to the dinner table, on the beach... etc...

below: Maria and Esther

After meetings we played games until late.... of course....I mean, you can sleep when you get home!

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